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Government considers plan to cut tuition fees

“University tuition fees could be cut to £6,500 under proposals from a commission established by Theresa May to recommend higher education reforms. The move would cost the Treasury £3 billion a year and either lead to a cap on student numbers or leave universities with a third less income from fees. University vice-chancellors, politicians and higher education experts reacted with dismay to the proposal, warning that it could threaten social mobility and force struggling institutions to close. The prime minister came under pressure on the issue after Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to abolish tuition fees won support from young voters in last year’s general election. It is widely thought in Whitehall that Mrs May is keen to attract the youth vote by promising a cut in fees. She is understood to have been encouraged by some senior MPs to limit the numbers going to university.” – The Times

  • Students would pay the price – Nicola Woolcock, The Times
  • Don’t forget the ‘big lie’ on student loans – Brian Wilson, The Scotsman

Editorial:

  • Proposal risks setting off perfect storm in the sector – The Times

Watchdog rebukes Downing Street over key Chequers claim…

“The statistics watchdog has rebuked Downing Street over a central claim that Theresa May used to sell her Chequers plan to ministers and MPs. Senior government figures said that 96 per cent of goods entering the UK would not undergo customs checks under its plan for a future trading relationship with Europe. That claim was key to selling the plan for the so-called facilitated customs arrangement to ministers and MPs after previous proposals were rejected. Analysis for The Times, however, cast doubt over the central pledge that the vast majority of businesses would pay the right tariff or no tariff at the border. It found that the claim that about 96 per cent of products would be able to pay the correct tariff “up front” was calculated as a proportion of the UK’s total goods trade rather than imports only. When exports were stripped out the percentage requiring additional checks and monitoring would be four times higher.” – The Times

  • Cabinet may be ‘bounced’ into backing deal on Tuesday – Daily Express

More:

  • MP seeks May’s assurances over Banks investigation – FT
  • Drug companies gagged over no-deal talks – The Times
  • Jones lashes out at plans to exclude UK from Galileo – Daily Express

>Today: ToryDiary: Our survey. More than four in ten Conservative members want May to step down immediately.

…as DUP push back against latest border proposals

“Ulster unionist bosses last night rejected a new compromise plan by the EU to break the ongoing Brexit deadlock. The DUP threw up a fresh setback by insisting the Brussels blueprint would mean Northern Ireland having to accept euro judges’ orders indefinitely. The new row came as tensions ratchet again with Theresa May trying to force an agreement next week to stop the clock from running out. In an Ireland blitz, the PM despatched three Cabinet ministers to Belfast and Dublin yesterday in a bid to hammer out a border backstop deal. While Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab presses the flesh with Northern Irish politicians, Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradleywent to the Irish capital. Under the EU’s new plan, the whole of the UK would join a temporary “bare bones” customs union with the EU until a future trade deal is negotiated – a win for Theresa May.” – The Sun

  • Unionists warn Raab against leaving Ulster ‘rule-taker from Brussels’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Negotiators ‘very close’ to border agreement – FT
  • Business groups criticise Brexit Secretary for lack of engagement – Belfast Telegraph
  • Dublin says deal can be done… if London gives ground – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Cox is hoisted shoulder-high to the top of our Cabinet League Table

James Forsyth: Brexiteers fear Brussels’ silence means deal is done

“It is quiet out there, too quiet in the views of many Brexiteers in government. Their suspicions are raised by the fact that when things go silent in Brussels, that’s when the real negotiating is being done. They fear that right now a deal is being done that they’ll be bounced into supporting. They worry that since last week’s Cabinet meeting, there hasn’t been any new Brexit offer put either to Cabinet or the inner cabinet, yet technical talks have resumed in Brussels. They fear that a deal will be agreed. Then, they’ll be faced with a choice of rejecting it and having to take the blame for no deal and the chaos that would involve or accepting the agreement with all its flaws. This fear of being bounced has been heightened by Theresa May’s mood. Those who have seen her this week describe her as “astonishingly upbeat” and convinced that a deal will soon be done.” – The Sun

  • May and Hammond used Budget largesse to woo Brexiteers – George Parker and Laura Hughes, FT

>Yesterday: Syed Kamall’s column: People in Brussels expect a Brexit deal will be struck, but fear time is running out

Rudd seeking return to Cabinet after ‘exoneration’ over Windrush

Amber Rudd has said that she would like to return to Cabinet after friends said she was “exonerated” by an official review of the Windrush scandal. The former home secretary quit the Cabinet in April after she “inadvertently misled” the Home Affairs select committee by saying there was no target for the removal of illegal immigrants. However, a report by Sir Alex Allan, the Prime Minister’s adviser into the row found that officials to provide her with the correct information before, during and after the committee hearing. She told The Telegraph that she would like to return to the Government: “I’m in politics for the long term to serve not only my constituents in Hastings and Rye but if the opportunity comes up I would like to serve in office again.” Downing Street also indicated that Theresa May, the Prime Minister, is open to her making a return to Government.” – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Our police are institutionally incompetent – Matthew Parris, The Times

Editorial:

  • Javid must get a grip on the Home Office or wind up like Rudd – The Sun

Bradley tells bickering MLAs to stop ‘grandstanding’

“Karen Bradley has challenged the political parties to chart a path back to Stormont. Writing in the Belfast Telegraph, the Secretary of State rejects criticism of Thursday’s round-table talks which some parties slammed as a waste of time – and calls for the politicians to get back around the table… Speaking in Dublin yesterday, Mrs Bradley told the parties to “stop grandstanding” and take ownership of seeing devolved government return to Stormont. She said: “We need to have dialogue, we need constructive engagement, we need, as I say, parties to stop grandstanding and actually do the right thing.” Mrs Bradley made the comments following talks between senior Irish and UK government ministers at a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC).” – Belfast Telegraph

  • Sinn Fein ‘would accept Foster as First Minister’ – BBC

Comment:

Editorial:

Hammond accused of squeezing self-employed in Budget raid…

“Philip Hammond’s Budget raid on self-employed workers will raise FOUR TIMES as much as his new digital services tax on tech giants, The Sun can reveal. A breakdown of Budget documents show the decision to close a National Insurance loophole for solo traders will generate a £1.1billion windfall for the Treasury in its first year. This compares to just £275million to be raised in the same year from the likes of Amazon, Google and Facebook from the 2 per cent levy charged on the revenue they make from advertising and online marketplaces. The levy, which comes into effect in 2020, is estimated to generate £440million a year by 2024… But critics have branded the tax a “drop in the ocean” and pointed out that the EU is going further by looking at a three per cent tax and Spain has already introduced a more radical proposal.” – The Sun

  • Tech tax dismissed as a ‘gesture’ which will be avoided – The Times
  • The global hunt to tax Big Tech – FT
  • Budget quits cost taxpayers £2 billion – The Times

Comment:

  • Budget moves to block Labour may hand game to Corbyn – Camilla Cavenish, FT

>Yesterday: George Freeman MP in Comment: There was much to cheer in the Budget. But now we need an inspiring programme for growth.

…as Crouch allies blame his meeting Davies for delay on gambling curb

“The sports minister Tracey Crouch resigned because she believed pro-gambling MP Philip Davies successfully went above her head to secure a delay to curbs on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), defying her on a policy she had overseen. Friends of Crouch said she was “furious” after discovering that the digital, culture, media and sport secretary, Jeremy Wright, discussed gambling regulation with Davies during a private meeting. Crouch had pushed for the maximum stake on FOBTs, described by the government as a “social blight” earlier this year, to be reduced from £100 to £2 from April 2019. The date was understood to have been included in a draft version of the chancellor’s budget, before being changed at the last minute to October. Political allies of the sports minister, who launched the FOBT review in 2016, said she believed Davies was instrumental in persuading Wright to choose the October date, allowing bookies to make an extra £900m from the machines.” – The Guardian

  • Chancellor ‘met with betting firm’ before decision to postpone terminals crackdown – Daily Mail

>Today: Adrian Crossley in Comment: Crouch was right about Fixed Odd Betting Terminals – and the Government should follow her lead

Scruton calls for ‘beautiful’ new homes

“All new homes should be beautiful, a new Government adviser has said as he warned that British skylines are being “mutilated” by skyscrapers and tower blocks. Professor Sir Roger Scruton, a philosopher and academic, has been appointed to chair a new Government commission that will “champion beautiful building”. The committee will consider the aesthetics of houses including the material they are built with, their aesthetic appeal and their size. He told The Telegraph: “I have loved the built environment and felt wounded by the damage done to it. I want new buildings to harmonise with the urban environment to make them places for communities to live in.” He said criticised the use of “repulsive” materials such as hardened steel, concrete and glass, adding that he prefers brick, stone and wood.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Construction activity rises but confidence dips – FT

Comment:

  • Building beauty into housing would bring long-term benefits – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Tories credit Sturgeon’s losing touch for capture of former SNP stronghold

“The Scottish Tories have seized control of the SNP’s former electoral stronghold thanks to Nicola Sturgeon having “lost touch” with the area, their interim leader will claim. Jackson Carlaw will argue his party now dominates the North East of Scotland at Holyrood and Westminster thanks to Ms Sturgeon’s lack of interest in its needs. He will contrast Ms Sturgeon’s attitude with that of Alex Salmond, her predecessor as First Minister and a former MSP and MP for the area, whom Mr Carlaw will praise for knowing his “patch.” Speaking at the Tories’ annual North East conference, he will cite Ms Sturgeon’s tax plans forcing skilled workers to pay £1,000 more income tax than people on the same salaries in England. Mr Carlaw will also highlight the impact on the region’s fishing industry of the SNP’s desire to stay in the EU’s hated Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).” – Daily Telegraph

Patel raises pressure on Corbyn ally over son’s drug charge

“A Labour frontbencher and important ally of Jeremy Corbyn is under increasing pressure to explain what she knew about her son’s drugs arrest and when. Senior Labour figures are demanding that Jennie Formby, the party’s general secretary, launch an investigation into the actions of Kate and Ishmael Osamor, who last week was convicted of possessing Class A drugs. Ms Osamor, the shadow development secretary, is facing questions over claims by her son, who lives with her and is employed in her Westminster office, that she did not know he faced drug charges when she nominated him to become a Labour councillor in north London. Osamor, 29, works as his mother’s communications officer, giving him unchecked access to the Palace of Westminster… Priti Patel, the former development secretary, called on Ms Osamor to resign from the shadow cabinet, accusing her of turning a blind eye to her son’s drug offences.” – The Times

Labour ‘concealed’ antisemitic threat against MP

“The Labour Party failed to alert police to a violent antisemitic threat made against one of its MPs that is now subject to a criminal investigation. Party officials were aware of the threat to Luciana Berger, who is Jewish, for at least six months and included it in a dossier of abuse by members being investigated by the party. Neither Ms Berger nor the police were informed, however, and an investigation began only after the dossier was leaked to the radio station LBC, which passed it to Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police commissioner. Yesterday Ms Dick said that after an initial investigation the information contained in the leaked document suggested that a crime may have been committed and a full inquiry would be launched. Labour MPs accused the party of a “fundamental failure in their duty of care” in failing to act over the threats. They claim that their colleagues’ lives were put at risk in the wake of the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox.” – The Times

  • Met Police launch investigation into allegations of antisemitic hate crime within Labour – Daily Telegraph
  • Labour branch rejects motion condemning Pittsburgh massacre – Daily Telegraph

No sanctions for rebels as Opposition try to shut down tax row

“The 20 Labour MPs who rebelled to oppose Tory tax cuts for high earners will not face further sanctions, as the party tries to shut down the embarrassing row. The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, irked colleagues by announcing that Labour would not reverse the measures – a decision based on polling and focus group analysis described by one senior party figure as “eerily similar” to that carried out by Labour under Tony Blair. Philip Hammond’s move to bring forward increases to the income tax personal allowance and the higher-rate threshold, promised in the Conservative manifesto, was one of the most eye-catching announcements in the budget on Monday. McDonnell provoked a backlash among Labour colleagues on Tuesday when he said in a series of interviews that he would not reverse the cuts if Labour came to power, but would instead introduce his own tax policy aimed at raising more revenue from corporations and workers earning more than £80,000.” – The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • A glimpse of politics after Brexit – Alex Massie, CapX
  • Come back Cameron – (almost) all is forgiven – Mark Fox, Reaction
  • The common rulebook would mean Berlin writing our rules – David Scullion, Brexit Central
  • Can anything arrest the polarisation of the West? – Eric Kaufmann, UnHerd
  • An opt-out system for donating organs is a win-win for liberals – Jack Elsom, 1828

7 comments for: Newslinks for Saturday 3rd November 2018

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